The Ankara, Turkey-based news organization Anadolu Agency reported that the national telecommunication authority had announced an “administrative block” on YouTube, though the website still appeared accessible after the announcement.
The move followed the online release of unverified audio of a security meeting of Turkey’s intelligence agency head Hakan Fidan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Deputy Chief of Staff Yasar Guler. The audio included a discussion on how to protect a tomb that Turkey considers its territory in the city of Aleppo in northern Syria.
Davutoglu reportedly called the leak an act of espionage and an “open declaration of war” against Turkey.
The reports about YouTube prompted a fresh round of comments on Twitter:
Youtube is popular in Turkey, also with gov supporters and not first time it was banned. Circumvention will be common but not the key point.
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) March 27, 2014
Every politician who tries to wrestle the internet will find out, sooner or later, that the internet always wins. #Turkey
— İyad el-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) March 27, 2014
Look at the upside, Turkey might block LinkedIn next.
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) March 27, 2014
Thursday’s action involving YouTube followed the government’s criticized ban on Twitter Friday, with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan threatening to “rip out the roots” of the website. Twitter users have been using the forum to spread documents allegedly pointing to corruption in the government. Many circumvented the ban by changing the IP addresses of their computers to countries other than Turkey.
The Twitter ban was halted by an administrative court ruling on Wednesday.
The U.S. mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which watches Internet use globally, issued a statement on Thursday expressing “concern” for Turkey’s blockages of social media:
“We strongly oppose any move by an OSCE participating State that runs counter to our shared commitment to protect the fundamental freedom of expression, including the right enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ‘to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.'”